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08 May 2010 @ 11:47 am
Deadlines For Reconnecting  
So, I return from a week long business trip, peruse the local weekly newspaper, and find that someone I went to both high school and college with died during the week.

I wouldn't say I knew him well; we were both classed in the "somewhat weird" category, were in Science Club and were into music (he was in the choirs the years I was in the band). He was 2 years ahead of me, and those two years in high school were the years I went from being an obnoxious little s**t to being merely annoying. We didn't really connect in college, even though it was a small school, because we had different interests and activities.

Some years later, though, he was one of a number of folks from my high school who worked with my mom after she left teaching and started doing technical writing and editing. That meant his was a name that I would hear from time to time, not a lot of information but at least maintaining that familiarity.

Not long after we moved back to Danville, ladyat and I were at the movies and the guy sitting in front of us rang my "I should know this man" bell. Too often, I am a little embarrassed that I can't come up with a name so I let such situations go by. This time, though, I mustered the gumption to introduce myself and was pleased to find I had, in fact, really recognized someone. He introduced me to his son, filled me in on some of his life (he had been ill for some time), and gave me his personal card (describing himself as "A Vile and Bitter Old Man" - not quite true but in line with his own sense of humor). I found out he was a gamer, that we had some other interests in common, and I put him on the list of people to get together with when I managed to get everything else in order.

Since everything else has not gotten in order, I never did that. I came close - I had found a few people who might be interested in some D&D and meant to add him and another local friend-with-whom-I-have-been-remiss-in-keeping-contact to the list. Never Got Around To It, as they say.

So, what does the discovery of his obituary tell me? In the world of personal-journey novels and Hallmark movies, I suppose it would mean I have an epiphany and go around seeking out everyone I knew and making contact with them (or, depending on the predictability of the plot, meet them all at the memorial service and am able to tie up all the threads before the last commercial). This is reality, though. I have the best of intentions to get off my rear and actually do some of the things with old friends that I've been meaning to since I moved back. The truth of the matter is that I'm still worried about looking like a fool (or being thought the same fool I was when I was in school), or (as often happens) finding that (for example) the guy I played Risk with all night in the mid-seventies doesn't share the same interests any more. Deep down I also understand that some people I thought of as friends probably didn't necessarily see me the same way - our group dynamics were complicated, as everyone's are in high school, and most of the people I was closest to are either dead, out of town, or out of contact. That is surely not true of everyone, but how do I know who is who?

I wish we'd manage to have a high school reunion - after 30 years these aren't preening festivals any more, they are a way for people to come back to a common place and understand growth and change and even that single shared foundation. ladyat's 30th reunion was very much better than she had ever thought it would be. I hope to see us do something - even something as suggested by my father, whose high school class participates in sort of a "range" reunion every year, where folks from a group of years get together. After all, none of us were affected only by the people in our particular graduation year.

One of my joys in coming home has been when I make some connections from the past. One of my regrets is that I often avoid or at least don't take advantage of those connections. I feel like I did in school - thinking I know someone but afraid to break in, especially since some of them have been here all along and have relationships with one another that don't have a 25 year gap in them. It's another way to remember that I don't and didn't quite fit in, even though the fit I had was comfortable enough to make me want to return.

I suppose my lesson is not that I need to put all that aside and be someone different. I can't do that any more than anyone else could. The lesson is, perhaps, that I should at least increase the speed of my plodding, realize that time isn't particularly kind to those who just wait to run into people at the grocery to try to get to know them again.

Maybe at some point I'll also be able to convince myself that I'm not (quite) the bozo who miraculously finished high school without alienating 100% of his classmates, that I should look for ways to reconnect that don't involve funerals and memorial services. Yes, that could be straight out of the inspirational-novel-of-the-month. It doesn't make it any less true.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
wyld_dandelyonwyld_dandelyon on May 8th, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
"Too often, I am a little embarrassed that I can't come up with a name so I let such situations go by."

I know what you mean. My memory for faces is bad enough that I often don't recognize people out of context at all, so I'm never sure, if I see someone that looks familiar, that I've ever met them at all, much less able to retrieve their name and attach it to that face.

And the hardest part is that people don't guess I might have trouble remembering names or faces; instead they assume that I don't like them or don't want to talk to them.

One of the things I really value about fandom is the name badges. For people who are consistent, it gives me a chance to cudgel their name and faces into my memory long after most people would have it down pat. And for the rest, it at least gives me something to call them that is socially acceptable in the meantime.

As to high school, well, this post will make me think about reunions more than I would have otherwise.
Rika, the bardling: Desertwolfbardling on May 10th, 2010 07:14 am (UTC)
There's a lot of self-realisation in here. Be gentle with yourself, we grow best at our own speed, though goo dnurturing helps.